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Officials table decision for relocation project
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The Newton County Board of Commissioners tabled entering into an agreement with the Georgia Department of Transportation for road repairs at Alcovy Trestle Road and River Cove Road.

County engineer Tom Garrett presented the board of commissioners at the Dec. 18 meeting with a framework agreement between the county and GDOT for a relocation project for improvements to the intersection. Garrett said under the agreement, the county would be responsible for preliminary engineering and the right-of-way at an estimated cost of $194,783.52, which he said would come from the 2005 SPLOST; and GDOT would be responsible for the cost of construction, where 80 percent would come from federal funding and 20 percent would come from state funding.  

County Commission Chairman Kathy Morgan said she met with GDOT and the project came up for discussion and it was a project that had been on a list of 2005 SPLOST projects for some years, but other projects were also on the list that needed to be done.

"I think this board can remember that last year when we were talking about remaining projects for the 2005 SPLOST, which was the Crowell Road project and Gaither's Road, we wanted to wait until we made sure there was enough funding left over for anything being the county's responsibility," Morgan said.

Morgan explained to the board that there was money left in the 2005 SPLOST to fund the project. However, Commissioner Mort Ewing made a point to the board that he had concerns about moving forward with the framework agreement and spending $$194,753.52 because the county had previously spent money on engineering for the project.

"We have already paid for and received engineering for this road," Ewing said. "I don't understand why we would want to consider spending another $194,783.52 for engineering, when engineering has already been done and is accounted for."

"It's done, it's approved, it's on the shelf," he said. Morgan agreed with Ewing saying she was under the impression that the board had already paid for the engineering. She asked Garrett if the $194,783.52 for the engineering and right-of-way was going to be in addition to the money spent on engineering that was already spent on the project.

 "The project is really conceived to be locally funded. The decision was made in 2007 or 2008, to proceed with the design as a locally funded project," Garret said.

"In order to receive federal funds, we have to follow the plan and the process that was laid out by the Department of Transportation."

"That process was not followed. So now we have to go back and start over with a new environmental process and the accompanying engineering to support that. So this $194,783.52 will be in addition to the previously expended engineering," he said.

 Morgan expressed that the intersection was very dangerous and the project needed to move forward, but she asked District 3 Commissioner Tim Fleming for his thoughts being that the intersection was in his district.

"I believe it is a very dangerous intersection and it's a road improvement that we've needed to do for many years. I've heard from many residents in the River Cove community," Fleming said.

 Fleming added that he shared the same concerns with Ewing and said he also had concerns with the projects timeline and the schedule of the project.

 "It's my recommendation that we table this until the new board has a chance to look at this and we get this agreement up to date and make the appropriate changes and work with the county attorney," he said. The board unanimously agreed to Fleming's motion and tabled the framework agreement until the Jan. 15 board meeting.